Unearthed Arcana: Heroes of Krynn Analysis

After quite a long break, we have a new Unearthed Arcana to check out, including a new race, a subclass, and some backgrounds and feats.

In this installment, we are focusing on the setting of Dragonlance, which I have to admit I don’t know much about. Still, first off we have the Kender race – which I am kind of familiar with, if only through memes about how bad they are. In this case, they are a small humanoid filled with curiosity, and they especially like collecting trinkets and various interesting stuff. They have two “big” traits:

Kender Ace is usable once you reach 3rd level, and allows you to reach into a container you carry and find a random useful item that disappears after an hour. It can be money, weapons, adventuring gear, a tool, or a trinket. It definitely ties to their apparent tendency to collect random stuff, but I’m not sure if I like the mechanics. I don’t know if this is something you can use a lot; if you need a tool or item, you probably already carry it, and the randomness inherent in the feature makes it even worse. You could scam people with disappearing gold I suppose, especially since you can draw a lot of it (5d6 gold pieces), but overall you’ll have to be quite lucky to get the thing you need at the moment you need it. It’s a bonus action, and you can use it a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier before needing a long rest.

Taunt on the other hand is very very good. As a bonus action, you can insult a creature within 60 feet of you. It must succeed of a WIS saving throw or have disadvantage on attack rolls until the start of your next turn. The fact its a bonus action and it affects all attack rolls makes it quite strong, but it does have the restriction that the creature must understand you, which rules out a lot of monsters. You do have the ability to use it multiple times between long rests though (equal to your proficiency bonus), so I’d say this will see a lot of use.

They are also Brave, having advantage on saving throws against fear, and something I found curious is that their speed is 30 feet even though their size is Small. The small PHB races (dwarves, halflings and gnomes) al have a speed of 25.

Overall I’m a bit conflicted about them, mostly because of Kender Ace, so I guess it comes down to whether you like their lore. They’re definitely not bad in therms of mechanical power.

We then have the Lunar Magic option for Sorcerers. Obviously, your powers come from the moon, and the mechanics of this class reflect that.

First off you have Moon Fire at level 1. You learn the sacred flame cantrip for free; it’s one of the best offensive ones on its own, but you also get a significant upgrade: You can target two creatures instead of just one, if they are within 5 feet of each other. Potentially doubling your damage output is… pretty good, I would say. Of course, it’s not 100% consistent you won’t always get to use it and as you level up you’ll probably use leveled spells more often, but I still think it’s very very good.

Also at level 1 you have Lunar Embodiment, which is the “signature” feature for this subclass. You learn several new spells that don’t count towards your limit, as with other subclasses; Every level from 1 to 9, you get 3 new spells. You also have a new mechanic: the Lunar Phase. When you finish a long rest, you choose what your phase will be: full moon, new moon, or crescent moon. Each of the 3 spells you learn from this feature per level is associated with one of the 3 lunar phases. Once per long rest, you can cast a spell associated with your current phase without expending a spell slot.

As you can see, Full Moon spells are mostly defensive and supportive, New Moon are offensive and “dark”, and Crescent Moons lean more towards illusions and manipulations. The lunar phases affect later features as well, and I think it’s pretty nice that they each have a distinct “feel” about them.

At level 6, you get Lunar Boons. Each lunar phase is associated with specific schools of magic, and when you use metamagic on spells of those schools you can reduce the number of sorcery points you spend by 1 – to a minimum of 0. You can do this a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier. If this feature affects metamagic, could you call it meta-metamagic? Anyway, I like it a lot – saves you resources without technically increasing your power, and while limited (both in number of uses and types of spells) you’re still able to use it very consistently.

Also at level 6 is Waxing and Waning, allowing you to switch lunar phases on the fly – just 1 sorcery point and a bonus action and you’re done. Very simple, and while I don’t think you’ll need to switch phases very often (at least initially – the next features make this much more impactful), having the option to do so is incredibly useful. To be honest I’d be very surprised if you didn’t get a way to switch phases.

Moving on, Lunar Empowerment arrives at level 14. When you choose your lunar phase, you also get a permanently on passive effect. For Full Moon, you shed light – 10 feet bright and 10 feet dim – and creatures of your choice inside the bright light have advantage on saving throws. As written, I will assume that includes you as well. This is, obviously, an incredibly strong defensive ability even with its limited range; I don’t even know what to really say about it. Buddy up with a paladin, and enjoy protection from everything that’s not a direct attack roll. On the other hand, if attacks are a problem, try the New Moon: advantage on Stealth checks, and attacks against you have disadvantage if you are in dim light or darkness. A bit more situational than the previous one, but I’m sure you can make it work. Finally, crescent moon is the most eh of the three, simply granting you resistance to radiant and necrotic damage.

In my opinion, they are a bit much. Well, mostly just Full Moon to be honest. I think you could make them a bit more interesting and engaging by adding an active component activated by spending sorcery points, or perhaps just once per long rest. For example, Full Moon could have only the light, and when activated the range expands and creatures get the advantage on saving throws for a minute. New Moon keeps the Stealth advantage as passive, similarly however gives you the disadvantage on attack rolls actively – as well as perhaps turning bright light around you to dim, and granting you darkvision. Crescent Moon keeps the resistances as they are, but can actively give you resistances to other damage types too for a bit or something, not really sure about this one. Anyway, you get my point – make them more engaging while tuning their power a little bit.

Finally, at level 18, you get Lunar Phenomenon, which is an active ability depending on your phase (and I was just complaining about that, wasn’t I). Full Moon gives off a burst of light that can blind creatures within 30 feet, while healing one of your choice. New Moon is instead “oppressive gloom” within 30 feet, dealing necrotic damage and reducing the targets’ speed to 0 – while also making you invisible for a turn. Finally, Crescent Moon allows you to teleport up to 60 feet and giving you resistance to all damage for a turn. You can use this feature multiple times, but beyond the first it costs you 5 sorcery points. I actually like this one a lot – not that i didn’t like Lunar Empowerment, I just had some issues with it.

Overall, I like how the Lunar Magic allows you to specialize on a specific role – defensive, offensive, or utility – while still giving you flexibility to switch between them. Each lunar phase as I mentioned has a very clear and distinct theme which i also like a lot. It’s a bit stronger than other sorcerer archetypes in my opinion, but nothing that can’t be fixed – this is UA after all.

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Moving on to backgrounds, we get two of them which are tied to the Dragonlance setting: the Knight of Solamnia, and the Mage of High Sorcery. Besides the standard stuff (skill proficiencies etc) you also get a feat from each: the Squire of Solamnia or the Initiate of High Sorcery, which we will look at after this part. Obviously these backgrounds tie you pretty closely to their respective factions, so keep that in mind.

Moving on to the feats, there are 10 of them. We won’t go over all each and every one of them , but we can split them in groups. Squire of Solamnia gives you some weapon and armor proficiencies and a couple of minor bonuses, but it is also a prerequisite for 3 of the other feats: Knight of the Crown, Knight of the Sword, and Knight of the Rose. These are separate orders of the Knights of Solamnia, focusing in group combat, defense, and leadership respectively. They’re not mutually exclusive, but they’re also not that good in my opinion. Well, to amend that: they’re not bad, but Feats are already competing with each other and the ability score improvement, so they need to be something extra special. This is also the case for all of the other feats in this UA as well.

Those were the fighter-y feats, now we have the wizard-y ones. Inititate of High Sorcery just gives you a cantrip and a level 1 spell, but like the Squire you need to for the others: Adept of the Black Robes, Adept of the Red Robes, and Adept of the White Robes. Each robe is tied to specific magic schools (actually tied to a specific moon in Dragonlance, but like the lunar phases in the sorcerer subclass the same applies here) but there’s also an alignment restriction. Each robe also gives you a 2nd-level spell which must be of the corresponding school, as well as an active ability. Black Robes can’t be good, they get necromancy or evocation, and can increase the damage a spell deals in exchange for hit dice. Red Robes don’t have an alignment restriction, they get divination or transmutation, and get to turn rolls of 9 or less to 10s. Finally, White Robes can’t be evil, they get abjuration or conjuration, and can reduce damage dealt to allies or themselves by using their spell slots. These are better than the Knights I think (as always, wizards beat everyone), and I can actually see myself getting them.

Finally, there are two more feats: Divinely Favored, which just gives you Thaumaturgy and a 1st-level spell which depends on your alignment, and Divine Communications which requires the previous one and has several effects: It increases by 1 the spellcasting ability for the spell given by Favored, you learn Celestial and two other languages, and you can sporadically cast augury and commune for free – once every 1d4 long rests. Communications is alright I think (well, better than Linguist I think) but the investment to get it is just not worth it. I’m pretty sure however that in the future there’ll be another background available that grants you Divinely Favored, similar to the Squire and Initiate.

Overall, I really liked the sorcerer, I’m neutral on the Kender, and not exactly enthused by the backgrounds and feats. Still, I’m glad to see more stuff outside the Forgotten Realms drop in.

You can read the Unearthed Arcana article for Heroes of Krynn here, and download the pdf here.

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